Me and the Irish comics scene/industry haven’t been getting along great in the last year. To prevent it shitting in my eye I’ve removed myself from the day-to-day biznit as much as possible. Out in the Cursed Earth wilderness, I’d forgotten how I enjoyed the company of Bobby Best, Ciarans Flanaghan and Marcantonio.
Today’s event marked the end of the Bellylaughs Comedy Festival at The Black Box, a retrospective of Davy Francis’ career. I’d little idea what was going on, so people asking me questions were treated to an uncertain shrug and “I’m just selling these comics, mate”.
There were a few panels lasting 15-20 minutes at the start and near end of the event. These didn’t go so well. There may be weird personal quirks like every other artist, but you’re not on stage to chat with your mates: you’re there to talk to the audience.
The centre-piece was a talk by Davy, which ran into a two hour affair. Fortunately, Dave was in performance mode and gave us a tour of his life and entertainingly covered adventures of four decades in comics, with the flair and savvy of a good stand-up. It was an absolute treat so see uncovered gems, hear of Davy’s run-ins with Alan Moore, Sergio Aragones and Frank Quitely and the introduction of Wee Billy Simpson into the narrative had the room in stitches at the outset. In part, the performance had functional similarities with when Steve Bell talked at The Black Box a few years back, and with many of Davy’s family and friends in the room, of so many different ages, it made for a very cosy comiciography.
“We used to always draw on tablecloths”, Davy told us, “And thats why we have pens and crayons on your tables.”
The Belfast Telegraph donated a huge ream of printer paper which I dropped on my foot and Paddy sweated over but eventually we hung it Black Box walls white. Davy drew the first panel of this five foot high four panel strip. Not sure who did second and third, I drew the fourth.
There was another panel, this consisting of Ian Knox, Ann Harrison, forgot his name (thanks for the correction,) and Paddy Brown.Again, the audience couldn’t hear and part of the audience’s reaction was to talk over, making it very uncomfortable. It’s part of The Box’s charm that events can go on and people can still talk away to their pals, but there needs to be an established line.
Above: From the wall, by Daryl Shaw, in reference to a great time travel joke Davy made early in the event.
Dunno who Davy Kerr is, kinda want to find out.
Verdict: A pleasant day out.
Davy has depths of storytelling performance wow-some but it’s conceivable this small format event could be repeated (similarly) with Ian Knox or Will Simpson and probably Paddy himself when he gets a bit older. There hasn’t really been a Belfast comics event like this.
One thought on “Comic Capers With Davy Francis and Chums”
The other guest on the panel was Patrick Sanders. We did our best to talk into the mikes, not always entirely successfully. Apologies to anyone who couldn’t hear. Ann talked about how the comics crowd were more accepting of her and her pin-up drawings from Doctor Sketchys than some of the other artistic crowds she tried to join, and we talked about how the comics scene is a bit more accepting of women than it used to be. It turns out Patrick’s gay, so that brought up a bit about other minorities and how accepted they feel as well. It was very interesting, and a pity we didn’t project better. We’ll do better next time.